April should be known as crime month. Reading crime fiction means you get to read lots and that’s what I did, because crime fiction writers make it easy to sit in the same seat for hours on end and read and read and read. If that doesn’t happen it’s because you picked up the wrong book, in which case toss it aside and pick another. Crime is the one genre where I don’t think you should persist for the first 50 pages. If you don’t get into it from the beginning, you know you’ve chosen the wrong one. There’s plenty out there, so don’t be afraid to leave one behind.
Having said that, I started out reading Moshi Moshi (Banana Yoshimoto) which doesn’t resemble crime fiction in the least. This is the story of a mother and daughter’s journey through loss and grief, and their reconnection and healing, following the untimely death of the father in a suicide pact with a woman unknown to them. The daughter moves from the family home, where she has lived her entire life, to gain some distance from the situation and come to terms with her father’s death. However, the ghost of the father makes it difficult for her mother to remain behind, driving her to follow her daughter to the small apartment she has rented in another town. This is the story of two strong women revising their relationship in adulthood and learning to live their lives with the void created by death. This book is worth a read.
As much as I enjoyed Moshi Moshi, it made me think and reflect, and all those things a good novel sets out to achieve, sometimes I just want to read to be entertained. My go to genre for that is crime fiction /psychological thrillers and that’s exactly what I read for the rest of the month. I’d never read anything written by Lucie Whitehouse, and was excited with my new author discovery, reading Before We Met. Hannah meets Mark, turns her life upside down to follow him back to London, gets married and thinks she’ll live happily ever after. But one night Mark doesn’t come home from a business trip. Hannah begins searching and finds everything she’d ever been told was a lie. When Mark finally turns up, Hannah confronts him with what she’s found out, and so begins the unravelling of her life.
To my mind, a good crime novel gets 3 stars, maybe 3.5 if they are lucky, and this is exactly how I would rate Before We Met. I enjoyed finding out about Mark and the mystery that surrounded him. There was enough suspense with Hannah fearing for her life, but Hannah herself was a bit disappointing. I was annoyed that she threw away a successful career because Mark had to move back to London. I would have hoped that the days of blindly following were over, but maybe not. This is Lucie Whitehouse’s third novel, and I’ll be seeking out books 1,2 and 4 next time I need a crime fix.
I moved on to Sophie Hannah’s Little Face. This was her first psychological thriller featuring detectives Zailer and Waterhouse and the cast of officers at Spilling CID. This is the story of lies and survival, and although not as good as the novels that follow, it’s pretty good for a debut. I really like the characters that have grown and developed in this series, each being a little odd in their own special way, albeit not terribly likeable. In fact, this is a story full of unlikable characters, not just those employed by the police department. The mother-in-law is controlling, the husband is nasty, and the mother whose baby disappears is compliant. But put it all together and it kind of works. Later novels are better, but if you’ve never read anything written by Sophie Hannah before, then this is totally acceptable.
Now when it comes to crime fiction, in my opinion, there’s no better place to start than Jack Reacher. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I love a good dose of Lee Child, so when I found The Hard Way at the library, I couldn’t resist. This is Jack Reacher #10 and was published in 2006, but this is a series you don’t have to read in sequence, so I snapped it up. This is predictable reading: tough guy, bad situation, bad people, saves the day. There’s nothing else to say: loved it.
And then onto something completely different: The School of Greatness, Lewis Howes. I admit I went looking for this book and that’s because I follow Maria Sharapova on Instagram and she just so happened to post that she was listening to a podcast by Lewis Howes. I love a good bit of Instagram stalking, which led me to lewishowes.com and ultimately the book. This goes into the self-help / business genre, which I don’t ordinarily pick up…but I was intrigued. His ‘lessons’ involve creating a vision, setting goals and applying specific habits and tools to achieve greatness. What I learned: great things come to those that get out there and do something about it, and when they fail they don’t give up, they try something different. This is not about dreaming and hoping. It’s about setting goals and working your butt off to get where you want to be. I was inspired. I am inspired!
April provided a diverse range of books for me to share. I enjoyed all of them for some reason or other but my favourites were The Hard Way, because it’s fun; and The School of Greatness because it inspired me to do stuff. Not too sure what the stuff is at this point, but at least I’m inspired and that’s the first step. Happy reading!